James Wolfensohn obituary

Former president of the World Bank determined to alleviate poverty in less developed countries

“If you have wealth, you have to share it,” was the watchword of the former president of the World Bank James Wolfensohn, a larger than life, egotistical, supremely confident, inveterate networker, but fundamentally a good and witty man. Wolfensohn, who has died aged 86, made a great deal of money and gave a great deal away.

The zenith of his career was his two-term presidency of the World Bank, between 1995 and 2005, where his zest and passion for poverty alleviation left an indelible mark. Unafraid to confront the reality that too much of the World Bank’s lending found itself in anonymous offshore bank accounts held by recipients, he set up an anti-corruption task force, unthinkable before he arrived for fear of legitimising the bank’s critics while potentially smearing some innocent borrowers.

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